The good news continues

Already cheered by the prospect of mass-suicide by the city’s property agents, Hong Kong attains unsurpassed joy on learning of two more exciting developments.

First is the news that Louis Vuitton, manufacturer of ugly, impractical and overpriced women’s bags (and the bags themselves are pretty unappealing), is suffering some sort of collapse in business and halting expansion of its no-doubt tacky premises in Causeway Bay. Other space-wasting vendors of luxury-brand baubles for the educationally sub-normal will move in, but there is a long-overdue smell of retail blood in the air. The market for pricy tat is peaking, thanks to ‘soaring rents and a crackdown on corruption in the Mainland’.

How interesting: the designer-label industry drives local shops and restaurants out of Hong Kong neighbourhoods in the course of feeding off the theft, intimidation and bribery taking place in China. Could a business model get any more parasitical if it tried? And how intriguing the thought that it was the Chinese Communist Party that enabled and indirectly nurtured the beast before, we hope, killing it off. This is good news for Macau as well, as we can see from the way a hint of possible measures against money-laundering hits casino stocks.

The second reason for rejoicing is the mouth-watering possibility of golf courses being reclaimed to provide badly needed housing. This sort-of has ‘too good to be true’ written all over it. The officials concerned mention the idea in that dispassionate and thoughtful tone that signifies bullshit – like former Constitutional Affairs Secretary Stephen Lam when he used to intone on his latest vacuous proposal for political non-reform.

Having said that, this is the exact opposite of a Stephen Lam scheme in that just about everyone is bound to love it. Now they’ve mentioned it, can our leaders possibly back down without having millions of us rampaging onto the links/fairways/bogeys or whatever up at Fanling and just tearing the greens to shreds? Could this be Chief Executive CY Leung at his most cunningly wolf-like and diabolical? By tormenting the tycoons who plot his demise while putting shots at their beloved HK Golf Club, and winning him badly needed public approval, it would be populism at its finest.

The South China Morning Post quotes a highly perceptive Dr Andy Kwan Cheuk-chiu of the government’s housing advisory body as saying…

Some private golf clubs pay nominal rents to the government while running the site like an exclusive club for the rich … This is blatant exploitation. The government should return the land to the people.

One of his counterparts, one Lau Ping-cheung, presents an imaginative alternative view …

…we need to discuss and understand the possible social impact, because Hong Kong is an open city with lots of rich people and foreigners who might be interested in golf.

So: this free-trading city has millionaires and outsiders who possibly find pleasure in hitting a little ball around a field with a stick –therefore its residents cannot have affordable homes. And we thought the politicians we had heard of were insane.

Which brings us to the key point. Some bores say that one of the three 18-hole golf courses at Fanling should be preserved because it hosts the international Hong Kong Open tournament every year. They are putting the cart before the horse. We face a classic win-win here. We look the other way when we see ragged schizoids sleeping under bridges because they shout at invisible people and smell bad. We prefer to forget they exist. Similarly, we leave golfers to plod around out in Fanling in their pink knickerbockers because they are so crushingly tedious to have around. (The only thing interesting about them is that statistically they are 20 times likelier than average to be struck by lightning.) Hong Kong has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to permanently solve both the scourge of unaffordable housing, and the tragic mental illness that is golf.

To quote CY Leung: “Hong Kong is not short of land, but we are short of determination.”

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24 Responses to The good news continues

  1. The really good news is nothing to do with property (surprisingly) but that the Peking establishment is now on its hind legs. Even the Editor of the SCMP is defending himself in his own paper. Sackings must be due there and in many other quarters. They just can’t handle the 2017 crisis.

    Property is a diversion to the real events now unfolding in HK. Even the Womble Democrats are talking figures, arrangements, plans, scenarios, proposals. We thought we’d never see it.

    Hurrah! I think I’ll buy a Gucci wallet to celebrate.

  2. Cerebos says:

    Yes. At last. The Anti-Golf movement finds its voice. Loathesome game played by spineless pansies and professional bores.

    Low-density affordable housing at the HK Golf Club in DWB? Bring it on.
    Shek O Country club (membership 500) owned by the people for the people? J’accepte.

    Ah – the tycoon / government loin-cream nexus. Somehow I don’t think the CCCPPCCCPC will take this opportunity to assert some of its more noble founding principles.

  3. Mary Hinge says:

    “Too good to be true”, you say? Hmmm… Well, I’m not bothered at all about golf, but it’s a crying shame that green and verdant spaces should be paved over in yet more ugly, grey concrete.

  4. Worm Flu Patient Zero says:

    As someone who has no interest in golf, I also find the prospect mouth-watering. However, I wouldn’t like to see all those tress cut down. Why not turn into a public park and give out free frisbees to public housing tenants?

  5. Sir Crispin says:

    It’s nice to see George Carlin’s ideas being put into action:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbSRCjG-VLk

  6. Ernie Els says:

    @ Cerebos
    Calm down, son. Hit a few balls on the range once a week and take a couple of lessons and you will improve your golf game, I guarantee it.

  7. Chris Maden says:

    The knickerbockers I wear on the golf course are not pink. They have lurid green polka dots, too.

    As someone who hacks a golf ball around the public courses at Kau Sai Chau when I can, the rare visits I have made to Fanling inspire anger. I have only ever been allowed on during the week, and the courses (and club house) are utterly deserted. Sure, if I am (or tourists are) willing to pay three times the price I do at KSC, and start before the sun comes up, I can play one round. That is the limit of their engagement with the public. As to the chances of being able to join, forget it.

    The courses are old and rather pretty and it would be a loss to redevelop them. So I suggest that the government take Fanling back, make the golf courses public, and turn the current public ones at KSC into housing.

  8. Gweiloeye says:

    Golf – the best way to ruin a good walk. Make it into a park where people can actually take their shoes off and walk on the grass – no dogs allowed!

  9. Probably says:

    An alternative win-win scenario (for the pink dolphins) is why not use the golf course to cater for a third runway? Save’s dropping tons of rocks into the harbour.

    Isn’t there already a 9-hole course at the Chep Lap Kok? Maybe it can become a theme for HK airports?

  10. Oneleggoalie says:

    Chris Madden hit with the sweet spot…Fanling Public Course…once a year host to Hong Kong Open…oldest tournament in Asia.

    An “international city” needs class…golf is a great game..nothing more…or less.

    Property agents dying is a good thing.

    Designers across Europe can go back to designing for people with normal taste.

  11. Fred says:

    1. “To skirt the cap on RMB (Chinese nationals ) can take out of China, gamblers buy expensive goods from pawnshops using debit cards and trade them in for cash at the same store. The use of junkets,by casino companies in Macau limits the Macau govt’s ability to prevent money laundering and other illegal activities “.
    [Bloomberg]

    2. “Some private golf clubs pay nominal rents to the government while running the site like an exclusive club for the rich … This is blatant exploitation. The government should return the land to the people”.
    [Dr Andy Kwan Cheuk-Chiu]

    3.“Hong Kong is not short of land, but we are short of determination.”
    [C.Y. Leung]

    4.“Hong Kong has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to permanently solve both the scourge of unaffordable housing, and the tragic mental illness that is golf”
    [Hemlock]

  12. Fred says:

    @ Sir Crispin

    Thanks for the George Carlin link. Some priceless stuff there :
    “… watching golfing cocksuckers… is like watching flies fuck…”

    Also a helluva lot of commonsense !
    Can we vote him for next CE in 2017?

  13. Sir Crispin says:

    “Chasing a little white ball over a hundred acres of grass while the arthritis is killing you and your heart is blowing apart in frustration has never been my idea of a civilized pursuit.”

    – Robert Ludlum, The Icarus Agenda

  14. isomoliu says:

    The government had done it before, terminating the DWB tenancy during the war. http://www.hkgolfclub.org/club.php?s=2&ss=201&c=20101

    How about converting the DWB and Shek O courses into much needed landfills, to ease the burden borne by TKO etc. That may trigger tycoons to mount a “coup” to depose CY. We live in interesting times.

  15. Ben Hogan says:

    There’s nothing wrong with golf.

    How else can White people get to dress like Black people?

  16. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Like Mary, I remain suspicious. Covering one of the last pieces of more or less flat greenery with cement may or may not be a good idea. But it’s the way the idea has arisen that worries me.

    It was first of all raised as an alternative to… I can’t remember what, but it may have been the landfills or Ta Kwu Ling/Ping Che housing for the huddled masses or something. Is CY so desperate he’s resorting to bait and switch? Soon he’ll want to form a coalition with the Pan-Dems!

    But now the fact that the sport is a foreign one, the presence on the course of the Governor’s Residence, Lau Ping-cheung’s casual remark that rich foreigners play golf…

  17. Cerebos says:

    Thanks Sir Crispin. LOVE the George carlin link. “And I know there’s some people who play golf who don’t consider themselves rich. F**K ’em. And shame on them…”

  18. Fred says:

    Hemmers, you really have hit a nerve on this issue, and quite rightly so. I’m surprised it has not occurred to anyone before with such calrity

    What percentage of HK people actually play golf and what percentage of HK people actually turn out to watch golfers at play ?(that’s assuming they are even allowed onto the courses to watch them play – which appears not to be the case at weekends)

    If we assume 7,000 HK people do actually play golf (which I think is a gross over-estimate – rather like REDA’s gross vs net usable floor area) the percentages are something like 0.1% and 0.01 % respectively.

    OK I grant you that the 0.1% who do play golf probably account for over 90% of the wealth in HK. So let the LKS’s of this world go and BUY their own fucking golf courses at normal HK land auction rates. That way they will at least be legally exclusive clubs instead of illegally exclusive clubs.

    It’s OK to build stadiums for other ball sports, because tens of thousands of kids and adults of all ages play those games and hundreds of thousands turn out to watch the games .

    But when was the last time you heard someone say : “Mmm it’s sunday afternoon… methinks I’ll drive to Fanling and watch a few people playing a round of golf”.

    Sure, let’s keep the golf courses intact ( but without the holes) and turn them into public parks where families can picnic and the kids can run around barefoot or play in the sand pits. We need a few more places like that in HK, because the country parks – though great for trekking – are not quite in the same league as the great public parks in the West ( e.g Hyde Park in London, or the Downs in Bristol where CY went to University)

    And if land really is needed for housing, then sure : build on part of Fanling golf course. Can you think of a better way to create a really nice place to live for the next generation of homeowners than next to an ex-golf-course-turned-huge-public-park ?

    People of HK unite ! Fuck all golfers, or at least force them to pay for the land they occupy at a commercial rate – or else bugger off to SZ to play ( and hopefully take some of the LV shop owners with them )

  19. Joe Blow says:

    I would like to bring up something off topic: did you see Zimmerman as one of the SCMP “Ambassadors” alongside Aching-Bones, Ronald Arculli and f*cking Alan Semen ? Looks like yet another alternative voice in Hong Kong politics has sold out in exchange for a seat at the table of the Establishment.

    First we have Christine Loh joining CY Lie’s cabinet in exchange for 180 k per month and never mind the principles that she once had, and now Zimmerman is going the same way.

    Looks like Longhair is the only one who is not for sale.

  20. Mjrelje says:

    Right said Fred! Totally agree with all of that.

  21. Maugrim says:

    Funny how one day in HK people like Alex Lo are decrying the influence whitey has, and on the next, locals say a reason they can’t use land for housing is because foreigners will use it. Going by the box pop here, most of us would be happy to see it and others go

  22. Mjrelje says:

    The days of HK having to attract foreigners ended back in the ’80s. The only places that have to try to promote FDI are countries that have such dubious laws and social structure that all they can offer is cheap labour (China and Bangladesh immediately spring to mind). HK on the other hand has no need to have to provide anything extra as global companies wouldn’t give a shit if Fanling was turned into a city park rather than golf course — in fact they’d probably recognize the justice of it. The only people that would be against this obvious solution are the ‘wealthee’ users of the club and its lowly paid employees.

    A much bigger turn off for any ‘foreigner’ considering bringing inward business investment to HK is more the lack of affordable English schooling and the total lack of coherent government rule. HK is under growing scrutiny as a puppet non enity of a directionless dictatorship that seems ever more paranoid of its own lack of legitimacy on the intermational stage rather than a world trade force.

  23. Mjrelje says:

    And as for all that crap about ‘most business deals are sealed around a golf course’ they are not — it was always a way of hood winking employees / great unwashed to believe that business involved a quick game of golf, a couple of prostitutes, and a good piss up after an expensive dinner ‘I’ll be home late dear’. No real business has ever been done that way but all corruption has. It is high time that this scam of the wealthee (sorry cant stop using that since knowing that someone on planet earth actually chose that name for their child – and obviously in HK) is now ended. As Fred said, go and buy your own fucking golf course Li Ker-Ching, you’ve taken as much money handed on a plate as you possibly could, so fuck off and die soon. There is obvious late stage dementia deep set in and a meglomatic delusion of legacy as he appears to think he is respected. Idiot.

  24. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Agreed that the Cricket Club, the Football Club, the Golf Club that place at Po Toi O and others, with their massive hidden subsidies, should go, although a lingering doubt remains in my mind about the manipulation of public opinion.

    More parks? It’s like St Augustine and sin, aka jam tomorrow. The debate has been raging — well, wobbling along — for several decades, whether it’s Lower Albert Road, the culture thingy, CY’s place, the harbour front or plenty of others. The gullible are easily won over by artists’ impressions of couples holding hands on impeccable striped grass.

    Shouldn’t we be discussing weightier issues? I suggest for starters: (a) the Heung Yee Kuk (b) the three landfills or (c) coalition governments.

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